Every Business Needs an Elevator Pitch

You never really know when and where you might have the opportunity to pitch someone on your business.

December 15, 2021

We tend to associate pitches with one of two things:  sales pitches and pitches to investors.  And in fairness, those are two of the most common audiences when you’re intentionally pitching someone with a particular purpose in mind.

But there are also times when you’re pitching your business without knowing much about the person you’re talking to.  You might meet that person at a networking event or a cocktail party.  You might be standing in line somewhere and strike up a conversation with the person in front of you.  You might have someone stop you in the middle of the grocery store in the middle of winter because they see a certain college logo emblazoned on your ski hat.  Too specific?  Well, that actually happened to one of us, and fortunately, we have our Haven pitch down pat!

The point is that you never really know when and where you might have the opportunity to pitch someone on your business and gain a new customer, a new referral source, a new service provider, some free media, a strategic partner, that key new hire for a key position, or something else entirely.  Some opportunities are totally serendipitous, and we’d better be able to recognize them and take them when they spit on our shoes.

So no matter who you are or what you do, you need a good elevator pitch.  You can expand it and tailor it toward a specific audience when you know in advance that you’ll be pitching that person for a specific purpose, be it a potential customer or an investor.  But that all starts from having the basic core in place.  Here are four steps to develop that core:

1. Identify your customer’s key problem.

Customers don’t do business with you just because you’re a nice person.  They come to you because they have a problem to solve.  So you’d better know exactly what that problem is.  Is there something that your customer has to deal with that causes them a lot of pain?  Does it waste their time?  Does it cost them money?  Does it make them worry, anxious, stressed, or mad?  Or at the other end of the spectrum, are they reaching for something that they really want because it would help them achieve a goal?  Would achieving that goal make them more money?  Would it make them feel relieved, proud, accomplished, or happy?

Figuring out what that problem is is a key step to putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.  When you see the world through your customer’s eyes, you’ll have an easier time developing solutions for your customer that they’ll willingly pay you money for.  And even if you already have that perfect solution, being able to communicate to your customer that you understand their problems will help you make a connection with them and give you some authority in their eyes.

Here’s how Haven does this.  We’ve talked with countless small businesses and service providers, and we know that they don’t like having to deal with software designed with the needs of large organizations in mind.  Those enterprise solutions don’t scale down very well, so they leave a small business team with the unpleasant task of trying to shoehorn those enterprise solutions into their small business.  They’re complicated, they require training that no one has time to do, the team members don’t always use them the same way, they’re expensive, and they just slow the business down.  Almost like rust in the gears.

2. Position your business as the solution.

Now that you have a solid grasp on your customer’s problem, make sure that whatever product or service you’re selling is actually a good solution to that problem.  If you’re selling something that doesn’t really speak to that problem, then all the elevator pitches and marketing in the world aren’t going to help.  Sometimes when the dogs aren’t eating the dog food, it isn’t the marketing that’s the problem; sometimes it’s the dog food.

But you aren’t in that camp because you’ve built a fabulous product or offer tremendously good service!  Which is great… so long as people know that you actually do that.  So connect that problem that your customer experiences to your particular solution.  You don’t just practice law or accounting; you help clients facing uncertain times make smart decisions today to create lasting value tomorrow.  You don’t just run a microbrewery and bar; you create a space for family and friends who want to connect with each other to do so over a great drink and good times.

Here’s how Haven does this.  Since we know that small businesses don’t like dealing with a patchwork of complicated solutions that don’t always integrate well and do cost a lot of money, we designed Haven as an all-in-one approach that handles all of the core business functions of a small business on one simple, easy-to-use interface that every member of a small business team can use.  When the whole team performs their tasks using Haven, things get done more efficiently, and the business is firing on all cylinders.

If we’d just designed Haven as a solution by following our own preconceived notions, then we might’ve developed something that didn’t really speak to our customers’ problems, and that would be the worst result we could’ve hoped for.  So don’t fall into that trap.  Make sure that your solution is responsive to your customers’ problems, and then connect the dots for them.  Tell them how you solve their problems.

3. Describe the resulting benefits.

When you solve your customers’ problems, what happens?  Do they have more time on their hands?  Are they getting more leads?  Do they have more money flowing into their pockets?  Are they able to achieve some previously out of reach goal?  Do they feel less worried, anxious, or stressed?  Do they have some huge sense of accomplishment?  Figure out how your solution, if implemented correctly, will improve your customers’ lives.  They should have an easier time surviving and thriving because you helped them.

Think of it this way.  Your customer is the hero of your story, and you’re the wisened old mentor who can teach them the skills they need to gain success.  But most heroes don’t immediately set out on their adventure.  They need someone to plant the seed in their minds of what success looks like.  That vision can be incredibly motivating.  So paint that picture for your customer so that the lightbulb goes off in their head.

Here’s how Haven does this.  When our customers are using Haven, they spend less time on the timesuck of managing their businesses and more time doing whatever it is that earns them revenue.  Their invoices go out sooner, they get paid faster, they have a better sense of where work for any given customer stands, and they’re more coordinated.  The business just runs better.  And when that happens, work feels less stressful, the team members enjoy their jobs more, everyone has more money in their pockets, their personal lives feel better, and that small business that’s up against long odds in a competitive economy feels like it can go out and slay giants.

4. Pull It All Together

When you’ve thought through those three ideas, now you’re ready to pull everything together.  You need to be able to convey all of that to potential customers, investors, referral sources, new hires, and strategic partners at a drop of a hat.  And you might not have more than the time it takes the hat to fall to the ground, so keep it short and sweet.  You can add some meat on the bones for more formal settings, but be able to deliver your elevator pitch in as short an amount of time as possible, because that might be all you’ll get.

Here’s how Haven does this.  When we tell people what we do, we say that Haven does away with expensive, complicated, piecemeal software by uniting small business teams with a SaaS platform that handles all of their core business functions through one simple, easy-to-use interface so that they can spend less time on the administrative side and more time actually earning revenue.  We hit our small business customers’ problems (expensive, complicated software), our solution (simple, easy-to-use, all-in-one business management software), and the upside for the client (less administrative drudgery, more revenue).

Once you’ve got that pitch down, use it early and often.  You never know when you might run into someone at just the right time when they just happen to be open to hearing your pitch, and you never know what you might get out of it.

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